Chim Chim Cheree
A sweep is as lucky
As lucky can be
"Chim Chim Cheree"
You know, I think this is the first time I reviewed something by Agatha Christie on this blog that wasn't an adapation! I had already gone through most of Christie's more interesting books (Poirot, Marple) before I began the blog, and I seldom reread them...
Agatha Christie's The Secret of Chimneys (1925).
Was I the only person who for the longest time thought the title was The Secret of The Chimneys?
I love The Secret Adversary. I am actually quite fond of The Big Four. So I like to think I have some capacity to appreciate Christie's more chaotic and less polished plots. But I just don't like The Secret of Chimneys. Is it because there are no series characters (except for Superintendent Battle, who is a bit too sobre for the role)? Perhaps. Is it because Anthony Cade is 'just' the typical adventurer/rogue type of protagonist who is not particularly outstanding except for those traits? Maybe. Is it because the international plot of backdoor dealings and people after the McGuffin is actually quite boring? Quite possible.
Reading through some of the old reviews quoted on the Wikipedia page for The Secret of Chimneys, I see a lot of reviews praised the book for being an exciting story with lots of elements and a satisfying, unexpected conclusion. While I agree a lot of things happen in the book, I find it more chaotic than entertaining and while I usually can appreciate a lighthearted touch in a detective story, it doesn't really work for me here. At least in The Secret Adversary, we had two young people who had nothing to lose and were full of energy and guts. But here we start with the setting of a heavy international plot and stolen jewels and murder and I don't know what more, and the lightheartedness doesn't really fit. And the unexpected conclusion is not really unexpected. I don't even think that it's me recognizing Christie patterns here, the conclusion is just rather obvious.
But like always, Christie is a great writer specializing in simple, to-the-point writing. I flew through the book, even though I did not really enjoy the plot. I can also understand if people like the characters of The Secret of Chimneys, because Christie can put characters on a page like no one else, but personally, I think both plot and characters have been done much better by Christie herself in plenty of her other books.
I have to admit though, reading The Secret of Chimneys has made a bit weary of going through those last Christies I haven't read yet. I made my way through all the Ellery Queen novels and that had its ups and downs, but I find it difficult to really enjoy Christie's thrillers. Maybe I'll only go through the remaining Tommy & Tuppence stories...
Anyway, The Secret of Chimneys. Didn't really like it, wouldn't recommend it either. Christie has done much better, much more enjoyable, many more times.